Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Nature of God’s Love (TOTB Part II)

TOTB Intro; TOTB Part I

Paul prays for the Ephesian church to know the height and depth and width of God’s love. In a certain sense, Paul may be conveying that God’s love is limitless and that words will never be enough to fully characterize the nature of God’s love. But, while God’s love can hardly be described within bounds, Theology of the Body recognizes four key characteristics of the love of God. These characteristics are by no means exhaustive, but they are instructive, and very true.

God’s Love is Fruitful

The Nicene Creed recognizes that even before time began, the love of God was fruitful, “The Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father.” The very power of love is that it is generative. Where there was nothingness, love creates. The act of our creation is a further indication that God’s love is fruitful. Love seeks to multiply. Humanity was offered, in creation, an invitation to the eternal union that was originally known between the Father and the Son; in acceptance of this gift, love grows. Love, by nature, cannot be stagnant. It is, rather, fully life giving. When God creates Adam and Eve, He recognizes within them the power to share in this, the fruitfulness of love, and commands them, “Be fruitful and multiply.”

God’s Love is Free

When God created male and female, He created them with an invitation to share in the nature of love. God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and provided love on the availability of choice. “You are free to eat from any tree,” God instructed the father of the human race, “but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” God loved humanity of His own accord, freely without coercion. Adam and Eve were thus invited to reciprocate God’s free love. They were given an invitation to enter into the union of love that was eternal. But that was it – an invitation. Love cannot be love without being given freely.

God’s Love is Faithful

In creation we see that man and woman, created in their union to bear the image of God, are invited to share in the union of love that existed in the Godhead from the beginning of time. Tragically, man and woman, taking advantage of the freedom of love, choose not to fully trust the goodness of God’s love. But the fullness and richness of God’s love toward us is shown in His very faithfulness, even when that very love is rejected.

After Adam and Eve are willingly unfaithful, God shows the perfection of real love – it is utterly faithful. Adam and Eve take the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they eat it, and yet, beauty of all beauties, God pursues them in faithfulness calling to the man, even in his shame, asking, “Where are you?” God’s love is faithful.

God’s Love is Total

If Genesis 1 -3 is an indication of God’s fruitful, free and faithful love, then the rest of Scriptures, in its entirety, is a testament to the fact that the gift of God’s love is a gift of totality. God’s love, in fruitfulness created; love to be love included freedom; Adam and Eve were unfaithful to the love of God, God was still faithful to them.

From Genesis 3 to the end of Scripture, the heart of God is simple, “Oh, that they would be my people and I would be their God.” The longing of God’s love would require totality – the total gift of His Body. Eventually the story will again begin here. But before it does, Theology of the Body would have us consider the problem in our bodily nature and the reason for our frequent inability to experience and give true love.